Wine Tasting in Anderson Valley

by Kelli H. on November 17, 2014

Be prepared for lots of pictures! David and I have been dying to go back to Anderson Valley ever since we visited last January for a spur of the moment day trip. With such a busy summer we weren’t able to make it back, but at the Jason Aldean concert we made concrete plans with our friends Jeff & Debby to revisit Anderson Valley on November 15th. About a week after making those plans with Jeff & Debby, I asked my brother if he and his girlfriend, Jenna would like to come along. I’m so happy they did! We had a pretty epic day.

We were picked up at my brothers house in Windsor by Jeff & Debby in their SUV around 10:15 a.m. Debby is pretty amazing at packing picnics and thinking of everything. Jason and Jenna brought bacon wrapped goat cheese stuffed dates (sooo good!) and some cookies. David and I brought lots of sparkling waters and some almond gluten free snack balls. We were set for our destination of Navarro Vineyards.

We arrived right at Navarro right at noon. It was a beautiful fall day, sunny with some clouds and nice and crisp. We enjoyed a tasting inside where they also provided a mushroom pate appetizer which I could not resist — tasty! The wine tasting was fun, and they weren’t strict on how many tastings you could have. We tried multiple and ended up buying a bottle of their 2012 Pinot Noir.

After our tasting we headed out to their picturesque picnic area to eat lunch and share a bottle of their Old Vine Zin that Jeff & Debby purchased. We had quite the delicious spread and enjoyed our food and scenery for about an hour. There was live music playing on Navarro’s deck up above us. It was truly a dreamy fall day out in Anderson Valley.

OMG, that cheese is filled with a truffle pate that Jeff and Debby have specially made at Oliver’s Market. It’s the one cheese I could not live without. David and I are trying to eat paleo 90% of the time. It’s cheeses like this that make it so I could never be 100% paleo. It’s seriously the best cheese I’ve ever had. In an effort to eat healthier during our picnic I used raw veggies or slices of salami as a carrier for my cheese. I also snacked on lots of grapes. The spread was pretty fantastic but I’m not surprised since Debby always goes above and beyond.

After our picnic/tasting at Navarro we headed back down HWY 128 to Balo Vineyards. From the highway it looks stunning, so I couldn’t resist stopping in. The tasting room is pretty new and inside is very beautiful. I loved the wooden ceiling lined with beautiful paintings done by a local artist for their local wine festivals.

The tasting itself was informative since the man pouring told us the wineries across the street buy many of their grapes. While I wasn’t a big fan of Balo’s wines though I still had a great time there. It was another beautiful property, and if we hadn’t just had our picnic at Navarro Balo would have been a great picnic property. Later in the day at Bink Wines, we were told that Balo has a state of the art (small) wine making facility which many of the nearby wineries love to use.

Balo has bocce ball courts if you’re into that! Plus, look at that view of vineyards. Absolutely gorgeous.

After our tasting at Balo we headed across the street to The Madrones little tasting center. David and I had previously eaten at Stone & Embers, which I highly recommend. It’s a tiny little restaurant with amazing food.

We decided to stop into Bink Wines first due to their awesome name. Plus, they had these cute chalkboard signs. I’m a sucker for chalkboard signs.

We had another mushroom appetizer to pair with the wine. I really love when tasting rooms provide a little bite to eat. I loved Bink’s wines. Out of all the tastings there was only one that I wasn’t a fan of. We ended up buying the two bottles below and I can’t wait to open them up. We really had such an awesome tasting at Bink. The woman pouring was so interesting/funny and we all had a great time. We also learned thank Bink Wines is a woman owned winery which I thought was pretty awesome. It was my favorite tasting of the whole day. I highly recommend this tasting room to anyone visiting the area.

After our lovely tasting at Bink, we really didn’t think any other tasting could compare, but we were pleasantly surprised with Drew Wines. It was right next door to Bink and I’m glad we decided to walk in. We had a fun tasting at Drew as well. Molly, the winemakers wife poured for us. She was very knowledgable, handled our large group well, and really reminded me of an actress from a classic movie. I loved that Drew Wines are made by a family. Their tasting room reminds you of their living room since the walls are covered with family photos printed on large canvas. I also loved the cute little Edison lights. Jason, the winemaker even came in at one point and talked us through one of the tastings. It was another tasting room I’d highly recommend. Unfortunately by this time of the day I stopped taking as many photos and was only using my iPhone.

After Drew we hopped back into the car (Thank God for DD’s!) and Debby drove us to Jaxon Keys, located in Hopland. Jaxon is one of the wineries owned by the same company Debby works for. It was a cute tasting room with lots of wines to choose from. Again, by this time I wasn’t taking many photos. I also wasn’t participating in as many tastings.  The tasting room was quiet as it was the end of the day, but the girls pouring for us were pretty fantastic. I always love when the people pouring seem genuienly interested in you and even partake in your groups conversations.

We had such a fun-filled Saturday tasting with our friends. I can tell you that Anderson Valley is truly beautiful. As much as I love Sonoma County, I can’t deny my love for Mendocino County. If you’re visiting Sonoma County, try to take a day and go out to Alexander Valley. They have great wine, affordable tasting rooms, and beautiful scenery. David and I will be making another trip out there in the future to hit up some more tasting rooms we missed. Since most of them are dog friendly, we’ll be taking Ryder with us next time. Let me know if you have any questions about the tasting rooms we went to.

Yesterday was one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. It definitely wasn’t paleo and after a gluttonous day of wine tasting, picnicking, and eating dinner out at Chalkboard in Healdsburg, David and I paid for it today. We had a slow start to the day but we had a filling nutritious breakfast, and I finally got my butt into gear. It ended up being a very busy day full of chores. I definitely wouldn’t mind having another day off tomorrow but you only live once! Back to a healthy diet today and through the rest of the week. Have a great week!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Made in Sonoma November 17, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Why have I never been to Anderson Valley?! I need to get up there. Looks like you had an amazing time!


Made in Sonoma November 17, 2014 at 9:56 pm

What an awesome day! I love wine tasting, this makes me want to plan another day soon. I love Anderson Valley, too. We only went to one or two places but I need to add Bink to my list as well. And I need to try that truffle cheese, yum! I miss Olivers, when I was in college that was my go to market. They have the best balsamic dressing & breakfast burritos! Loved your pictures, thanks for sharing!


Made in Sonoma November 18, 2014 at 6:09 am

That looks like my kind of day! I’m obsessed with truffle anything so I would have to cheat if I were you too. It sounds so good!


Made in Sonoma November 18, 2014 at 10:11 pm

This is the definition of a perfect day in my book!


Made in Sonoma November 18, 2014 at 10:50 pm

You definitely need to go! Anderson Valley is super friendly and their tasting rooms are so laid back.


Made in Sonoma November 18, 2014 at 10:52 pm

I’ve heard so many good things about their breakfast burritos! I don’t really live near an Olivers, but I’ll have to stop in more in the future. I am just too obsessed with that cheese. haha.


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